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When I was a child, my family had a dog. My grandparents had a dog, my friends had dogs, and all of our relatives had them too. We lived in houses while our dogs lived in our gardens. They had a lot of space to run, play, hide, and a little dog house for sleeping. Back then, that was a standard.
Even if the dog wasn’t welcome inside of the house, it was a part of the family. What kept that bond lasting, besides daily play times and cuddles was the feeding routine. Today, this is considered dangerous for your pets, but back then, my mother would cook lunch for us, we would eat and then we would give the leftovers with additional dog food to our puppy.
Now, we all know that every dog should have properly balanced nutrition to stay healthy. Still, many people miss the habit of offering their pets a home cooked meal and re-using leftovers that way. We are here today to tell you that you still have an opportunity to do both. You can cook specially for your dog! I am sure he will be grateful and that you will get some extra tail wiggles.
If you decide to cook for your dogs, there are a few basic rules that you should consider. No matter what breed your dog is – German Shepard, Labrador, French bulldog, Pit Bulls or just a regular dog you rescued from a shelter, these three golden rules apply.
1. Getting a proper balance
What worries dog owners the most is how to make complete and balanced meals for their pets? Now, tell me one thing. When you cook for yourself and your children, is your every meal perfectly balanced? Or do you try to keep a good balance on a daily basis?
It is much more likely that you do the second. Getting every dog’s meal correctly balanced is almost impossible and at the same time – unnecessary.
What you need to achieve is so called over time balance. Leading expert on homemade food for dogs, Mary Straus is here to calm you down. She says that as long as you feed your dog variety of different foods, everything should be okay. You have to ensure that your pet’s nutritional needs are met over a week or two. There is no need for stressing about fitting all of the essential components into one meal. Feeding your dog different meals on different days is just enough to provide good health and optimal well-being.
2. A little bit of this, a little bit of that
This rule is closely related to the previous one. Imagine if you were eating only chicken breasts every day, for every meal for ten days. At some point, you would get sick of it, no matter how much you liked it at the beginning.
The same goes for dogs. If you serve them the same recipe repeatedly, it will cause problems. You have to assure variety. Include, poultry, red meat, liver, fish, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, and sometimes grains and legumes.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, it doesn’t mean your dog should be too. For optimal functioning dogs need animal proteins, while they don’t require carbohydrates. Vegetable proteins and tofu do not have necessary amino acids, which can cause certain health problems. At least half of your dog's food should be made of animal protein.
Another expert Monica Segal recommends you to feed your dog with following groceries in this exact order: eggs, dairy products, fish, and meat. These components have the highest biological values, with eggs on the top of the list and meat at the bottom. All the vegetables you serve to your pet need to be steamed or pureed because dogs’ short intestinal tract is not able to metabolize the cells from raw plants.
3. Calcium is a must have
Healthy meal for your dog has to contain calcium, which you can get by adding raw meat bones to the dish. Of course, you can use calcium supplements, but that might not be the best idea.
Mary Straus warns you that calcium supplements usually include vitamin D which is not recommended for dogs. You can add ground eggshell to your dog's food and provide calcium that way. Adding vitamin E to their nutrition should also be considered.
If you decide to feed your dog strictly with home cooked meals, purchase some high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplements. There are many kinds of them, and you should search for the one that suits your dog’s needs the best.
When you decide to make a transition to homemade food for your dog, consult a veterinarian. Many factors have a role in creating the perfect menu. Is your dog a puppy, inactive, pregnant, young adult and active or old adult active? Is he/she underweight, ideal or overweight? Does he/she have some kind of disease or disorder? It is important to include all of this information while creating a meal plan.
Research had shown that only nine out of two hundred dog food recipes, recommended from different sources meet the National Research Council’s (NRC) Recommended Allowances or Minimum Requirements for all essential daily nutrients. Which means you should be careful when dealing with dog diet and you shouldn’t do it without vet’s consultation.
We will offer you some general guidelines, but for a complete nutritional guide, you should read this article.
Let’s start with basics. Here are the percentages of what your dog’s nutrition needs to contain and how you can provide it:
- 40-50% protein – eggs, meat, seafood and dairy products
- 10% carbohydrates – grains and beans
- 0% vegetables – cooked, steamed, processed
- Fat – oils or meat
- Calcium – crushed egg shells or a supplement if necessary
- Fatty acids – cooked egg yolks, plant oils, oatmeal, fish, and meat
Now, if you still fear that your dog will get sick if you start giving him table scraps, we are here to bust some myths for you:
- Your dog won't get worms if you let him drink milk. However, it’s likely that he will have loose stool, due to his inability to process lactose.
- Chocolate also doesn’t cause worms. But, it doesn’t mean you should give it to your dog – it can cause heart problems if fed in large amounts, due to theobromine.
- arlic won’t protect your dog from getting worms or fleas.
- paying or castrating your dogs will not lead to him/her gaining weight. If your dog is healthy, he/she can only become overweight if you feed him too much.
- here is no need to add vitamin C supplements in your dog’s nutrition. They manufacture it internally, on their own. However, if your dog is going through intense exercise, disease or aging, some supplementation might be a good idea.
- f you are already offering your dog a proper diet, do not mix in additional calcium, it can cause harm!
- f you notice some of the following symptoms: itchiness and dry skin, swollen and red ears, compulsive paws licking, scratching face and chin – your dog might be allergic to certain kinds of food, like corn, soy, wheat and so on. On the other hand, if your dog is vomiting or having diarrhea, he might be developing food intolerance. Both cases are a good reason to visit your veterinarian.
- ietary deficiencies are not visible as soon as they start. It can take more than six months for them to become evident. However, high-quality diet will visibly improve your dog's condition after only three weeks.
- f your dog has dermatological problems, try adding omega fatty acids or upgrade his diet to meat-based ingredient formula.
Thanks for reading!